LIMA — A backhoe brought Lima’s downtown amphitheater project closer toward completion Monday as it began tearing down one of the two standing buildings on the lot slated to hold the $2.4 million project.
Tracie Sanchez, the amphitheater project committee’s chair estimates the first phase of the project — the tear down of existing buildings, removal of debris and sod installation — should take about two to three weeks to finish. By the time fall is in full swing, Sanchez said the city block bounded by Spring, Elm and Union streets will be an expanded green field ready for the start of actual construction.
“This project is an important step forward for our city,” Sanchez said. “As we talk to our community businesses, we realize how important a green space really is.”
Once completed, the site will be one of a number of downtown projects pushed forward in recent years leading to a revitalized downtown for Lima. Other projects in the pipeline include Rhodes State College’s Center of Health Science Education and Innovation, a new building for the Walter Potts Entrepreneur Center, establishment of the Legacy Arts Collective and the opening of a number of private businesses.
But before construction begins on the amphitheater, the Lima Rotary still needs to raise the remaining funds, about $400,000.
Since fundraising began two and half months ago, the Rotary has already secured $800,000 in pledged dollars, or 65% of the total goal. Sanchez said at this point, the Rotary and project’s committee have been able to talk to the larger actors in the business community, and the final $400,000 is expected to be raised through smaller donations.
Once those fundraising dollars come in, Sanchez said the remaining $1.2 million is expected to be appropriated by the State of Ohio, at which time the second phase, or the project’s construction, can begin. Under the current timeline, Phase 2 is slated to start in the spring of 2020.
Final design plans for the amphitheater have yet to be set in stone, as the project’s committee hashes out needs with members of the larger arts community. Preliminary designs expect a stage, green space, a place for sitting and sidewalks.
A number of community partners, such as ArtSpace/Lima and the Lima YMCA, have already expressed some interest in using the space. Once completed, Sanchez said it should serve as a comfortable place for downtown walkers as well as students of the downtown Rhodes expansion, which is expected to increase foot traffic in the area.
“To get to this level, it takes a vision,” Lima Rotary President Ken Dysert said, “and it shows that our club has a great vision.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.